The Health Belief Model: a decade later

Health Educ Q. 1984 Spring;11(1):1-47. doi: 10.1177/109019818401100101.


Since the last comprehensive review in 1974, the Health Belief Model (HBM) has continued to be the focus of considerable theoretical and research attention. This article presents a critical review of 29 HBM-related investigations published during the period of 1974-1984, tabulates the findings from 17 studies conducted prior to 1974, and provides a summary of the total 46 HBM studies (18 prospective, 28 retrospective). Twenty-four studies examined preventive-health behaviors (PHB), 19 explored sick-role behaviors (SRB), and three addressed clinic utilization. A "significance ratio" was constructed which divides the number of positive, statistically-significant findings for an HBM dimension by the total number of studies reporting significance levels for that dimension. Summary results provide substantial empirical support for the HBM, with findings from prospective studies at least as favorable as those obtained from retrospective research. "Perceived barriers" proved to be the most powerful of the HBM dimensions across the various study designs and behaviors. While both were important overall, "perceived susceptibility" was a stronger contributor to understanding PHB than SRB, while the reverse was true for "perceived benefits." "Perceived severity" produced the lowest overall significance ratios; however, while only weakly associated with PHB, this dimension was strongly related to SRB. On the basis of the evidence compiled, it is recommended that consideration of HBM dimensions be a part of health education programming. Suggestions are offered for further research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Automobile Driving
  • Behavior
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diet therapy
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Office Visits
  • Otitis Media / therapy
  • Patient Compliance
  • Primary Prevention
  • Prohibitins
  • Risk
  • Sick Role
  • Smoking
  • Tay-Sachs Disease / prevention & control


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • PHB protein, human
  • Prohibitins